As a former award-winning publican, I know a thing or two about hangovers, how to create them and better still, how to fix them. Some folk wrongly assume that because I retrained as a clinical nutritionist and Pilates teacher that liquor wouldn’t pass my lips. In fact, some are truly mortified when I reveal my past life in the Ladies Lounge. Yet there are those loyal followers who know that the life of a licensee is well marinated in authenticity, compassion and bloody hard work.
Alcoholism is rife in Australia and socially accepted as part of our culture, which makes it hard to determine what is your measure. For me, my well documented 80/20 rule always gets me by. As I get older, and allegedly wiser, I have stopped denying myself the fermented stuff, preferring to honour all of my trades holistically in the attempt to find a balance. So here’s what I know about the overflow.
Over the hangover?
One of the best ways to minimize the symptoms of a hangover – headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, dehydration, and body aches – is to practice some prevention before and during your festivities. Hangovers are caused by dehydration and congeners created during fermentation. Congeners are natural by-products of alcohol fermentation, and the higher the congener content, the greater the hangover. Gin and vodka have the fewest congeners, while bourbon and red wine claim the most. Allergies to wheat, barely, yeast, and corn may intensify your hangover. Note that coffee does not help as will only dehydrate you further.
The good Dr. Mercola reckons that ‘when alcohol reaches your liver, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase breaks it down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is far more toxic than alcohol (by up to 30-fold!2). So your body again attempts to break it down with the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is crucial for liver detoxification (glutathione contains high levels of cysteine, which is why taking this in supplement form may help prevent hangover). Together, this powerful detox duo can break down the acetaldehyde into harmless acetate (which is similar to vinegar).’
Preventative measures include stocking up on carbohydrates as they delay alcohol absorption. The curative approach is that protein for breakfast the next day – or dinner that night if you love a good long lunch like me – will decrease alcohol absorption. For example, when I was doing an intense amount of interval training and following a strict Paleo diet, my PT mate advised me not to eat while having a drink on a Friday night. His rationale is that your body will metabolise the alcohol immediately and not store it. It seems to work, however it does not make for a very social dinner date! Cheers!
Whatever your tipple, here are a ten of my die hard cures.
My top 10 Hangover remedies
Swim in the ocean. This is a must if you have one handy on your doorstep, like we do here in Byron Bay. Ocean cleansing will shock the bejesus out of anything you have consumed the night before. Helps to clear the cobwebs by igniting your cells with negative ions. Just like a slap in the face from nature! An epic wipeout while surfing will also do the trick.
Beet top, lemon and ginger tea The rich, red colour of this tea helps to tonify the blood and cleanse the liver. Because beets have strong detoxifying properties, as they are high in chlorine, this little tonic will assist in the cleansing of the liver, kidneys and bloodstream. It is also rich in potassium which may help to balance the metabolism. Recipe
Lick an Umeboshi plum – to balance out-there feelings from toxins. A Macrobiotic remedy that suggests having salty or contractive taste to balance the sugar from alcohol and other toxins. It really works but tastes awful! Get recipe
A protein rich breakfast – poached eggs and spinach or muesli with nuts, seeds and yoghurt. The liver produces elevated levels of C-reactive protein after injury or trauma. This substance is thought to be involved in inflammation and alcohol hangovers, so repair with healthy protein replacement.
A Milk Thistle supplement will help to re-energise hepatocytes (liver cells) is an anti inflammatory, antioxidant, and reduces toxic fatty degeneration of the liver.
Wheatgrass juice is the bomb to alkalise the blood and powerful antioxidant, superoxide dismutase. Magnesium. See my article on wheatgrass here
Vitamin B – especially B1,2,3 – will help circulation and blood cleansing. Think Black Betty, vegemite, miso soup, molasses and brown rice as examples.
Beetroot, carrot and celery juice This ol’ chestnut contains carotenoids and flavonoids which heal and cleanse. Celery juice is great for beer excess conditions such as gout as it breaks down the purines that cause pain, and helps to reduces inflammation.
Drink plenty of filtered water. Aim for 2 litres a day to promote kidney function and liver clearance.
Exercise and/or have sex. Both clear the head and increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. The endorphin rush will uplift you and eliminate the blues. Get to hot yoga or climb a mountain to sweat out the toxins, you’ll thank me for it after!
If all of the above fails….
Grab a Bacon sandwich with HP sauce. Guaranteed to fix coughs, colds and itchy holes!
This handy list below comes from Go Ask Alice
Chow down. Eat a substantial meal before you go out to a party or bar. Bread products and foods high in protein, like milk and cheese, slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream by coating your stomach and small intestine. Nibbling on finger foods throughout the night can also slow the intoxication process.
Drink for the right reasons. Social occasions and celebrations are pretty good reasons for having a drink. Reducing stress, releasing anger, or trying to prove something to someone are unhealthy motivations for alcohol consumption and may actually quicken the intoxication process and increase nasty side effects.
Hold that line. You’re probably familiar with your tolerance of alcoholic beverages (the point when the alcohol you’ve consumed begins to cause noticeable physical and psychological changes). Crossing your line can easily send you into hangover land the next morning. Challenge yourself to hold that line — set and state a drink max before you go out — your body and friends will thank you tomorrow.
Pace yourself. Hangover helpers and healthy drinkers recommend one drink per hour as a guide. This rate gives your body a chance to process the alcohol without sending it special delivery to your head.
Mix, not! Avoid alternating the types of alcohol you consume. If you begin with beer, stick with beer to the end. Starting with Scotch? Stay with Scotch, and so on. For many, downing different kinds of drinks leads to hellatious headaches and sick stomachs. It’s challenging enough for your body to react to one type of foreign substance, so why give it a harder time with two, three, or four?
Alternate. Start your partying with some food, then have a beer, then down some water or juice, then have another beer (remember to pace yourself along the way). Don’t switch off with carbonated drinks — they can speed up intoxication and heighten hangovers.
Sip or sink. Drink each alcoholic beverage slowly. Remember, your liver can only handle about one ounce of alcohol an hour. Rapid consumption of alcohol via shots, funnels, and drinking games are sure to win you a big hangover.
Have another drink… of water. Alcohol is a diuretic. Drink plenty of water during and after alcohol use to ward off dehydration, headaches, and achiness.